Forest-Disabled-Cat-At-The-Cat-Haven

For Sarah Pressler, cats are her life.

Founder of the Cat Haven, she cares for 15 different cats, many of whom are either disabled or need special care and attention. It’s not an easy job, but it is immensely rewarding and has brought Sarah and her husband Jay, endless amounts of love and affection.

The cats at the Cat Haven have a range of needs varying from those who are deaf or have brain damage, to those who struggle to walk or have behavioural challenges.

Sarah has always loved cats and set up the Cat Haven two years ago when she became disabled herself. Living with Fibromyalgia as well as ME, Sarah finds it difficult to get out and about but can care for the cats, along with the help of her daughter and husband.

“All the cats are here for a reason and have been rescued in one way or another,” says Sarah. “They’re my whole life.”

Caring for 15 cats is no mean feat but Sarah has the haven running like clockwork – each cat with their own routine, needs, preferences and idiosyncrasies. “First I get everyone’s food down and then I have to sit with Forest while he eats his food and do a nappy change. Then I go to the chalet in the garden to see Norma and Willow.

“I replenish everyone’s food around 2-3 times a day.”

One of Forest’s requirements is that he needs to wear a nappy but arranging this for him has in itself been a real challenge due to the lack of availability – especially in the UK.

“There isn’t anything in this country and they are very expensive. You can get some from America that have liners in, but Forest needs to drink a lot of water so he wees a lot and then he was getting wet fur. It was becoming a real headache,” says Sarah.

It was at this point that Sarah took matters into her own hands and started fashioning her own nappies for Forest using babies’ nappies. She adjusted the fit and put holes in them for his tail. She then did her own designs for the outside so that he’d look good.

“A lot of people put their cats down if they start peeing everywhere,” says Sarah. “If we can’t find what we need we just make it.”

Forest-With-His-Christmas-Pants

As well as Forest who has Hydrocephalus, the Cat Haven is also home to Trevor is also needs a lot of looking after. A rather anxious cat who is both deaf and brain damaged, Trevor can sometimes get disorientated and ends up not being able to recall where he is in the house. This means he is by Sarah’s side most of the day and night.

“Trevor falls off things sometimes. His head is deformed, and he was made deaf by being left with ear mites, so he requires extra assistance,” says Sarah. Lilly has Cerebellar Hypoplasia or Wobbly Cat Syndrome, as well as no teeth due to neglect, so Sarah has to check she eats her food ok.

“Everyone has a wet food diet so it’s high in protein. “We go through 130 tins of food a month!”

Sarah and her husband are very experienced at caring for so many cats with specific needs and even though it can take up a lot of time, Sarah says it’s worth every minute.

 

Thinking of adopting a disabled cat?

Cats-At-The-Cat-Haven

For Sarah and her husband, their cats are their lives and caring for them is immensely rewarding. And if you’re thinking of taking on a cat with special needs, Sarah has some advice to help:

1) Get a crate or a playpen

Some disabled cats can get disorientated easily which can be very stressful for them. Sarah says that by having somewhere you can contain your cat at night is really helpful as it gives you the peace of mind that they can’t hurt or injure themselves while you’re asleep.

 

2) Keep them close to their food and litter tray

If your cat can’t get around easily then help them by keeping them close to their food and litter tray. That way you can reduce mess and make sure they don’t go hungry during the day. To help with this, you might want to keep a Me & My Pets Super Soft Fleece Mat nearby so that they can relax and stay warm while close to their amenities. A litter tray mat and a non-slip food bowl mat will also help reduce mess.

 

3) Put up a stair gate

Stair gates are really helpful at making sure your cats don’t injure themselves – especially if they’re not so steady on their feet. It also allows them to stay independent as they can roam around the house without constantly being monitored.

 

4) Help them to eat and drink

For many disabled pets, or even just smaller pets, bending down to eat can be a problem so you may have to help them eat and drink. “Water fountains are helpful because some cats can bang their faces on ceramic bowls as they eat and also they need something at the right height. If a cat falls into their water bowl face down it could be fatal,” says Sarah.

Another option is to give your pets raised feeding bowls so that they can reach their food and drink easily without putting them at risk of toppling over.

 

5) Don’t leave them on their own for too long

Disabled cats can be particularly needy explains Sarah so leaving them on their own for too long can be too stressful for them. Keep them by your side so that they stay relaxed. On the go? Keep your cat with you using a pet carrier so that they stay safe in the car. At home? Snuggle up on the sofa together and keep them safe with one of our cat beds with sofa protector – the soft, cushioned walls helps them to stay safe and warm.

 

And even though having special needs cats requires a lot of time and attention, the rewards are tenfold.

“Seeing them running around and playing like normal cats is immensely rewarding. “If we hadn’t have taken them in, they wouldn’t have had a life at all. “It brings a tear to my eye knowing that we can provide such a happy and safe place and they make our house a home.”

Find out more about the Cat Haven and meet the family, here.

 

Disclaimer: This content in this article is intended for information or entertainment purposes only, it is not intended to replace the advice of a vet or animal health professional. Your use of the information is entirely at your own risk and Me & My Pets assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of the information found on this site. If you have any questions or concerns over your pet's wellbeing you should consult your vet immediately.